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Today, 30 million people have lost their jobs in the United States. This terrible reality isn’t just a tough pill to swallow, it’s creating a tremendous amount of uncertainty about the future of work. COVID-19 has in many ways sped up the inevitable dismantling of millions of jobs due to technological efficiencies, but the good news is that technology is only as powerful as the people that use it.

Given these circumstances, it’s no wonder that many people are turning to online education to prepare themselves for the post-pandemic workforce, but for many, it’s paralyzing to know where to start.

Here’s our list of the best online degrees and courses to keep your skills fresh and prepare you for the new world of work.

Become a Digital Marketer

Digital marketing is a $330 billion dollar industry and is growing every day. As long as businesses are selling products, they’re going to need marketers to effectively communicate their message and disseminate it to the right audience. A strong digital presence is crucial right now as we continue battling COVID-19. That’s because consumers are on devices more than ever before and the impact of other forms of traditional media––TV, OOH, radio––is dwindling.

This makes digital marketing a very lucrative career path with high earning potential. It’s also relatively easy to break into, especially with Udacity’s Digital Marketer Nanodegree program. This is one of the best online degrees and courses available because it requires no prerequisites and you’ll learn how to create a marketing plan for both B2B and B2C businesses. The program course covers everything from content marketing and social media strategy, to paid advertising, SEO, and email marketing.

Companies depend on effective marketing strategies to amplify their message and set themselves apart in an increasingly crowded market, and this need will continue in the future. Start developing these skills today to prepare yourself for a lucrative career in digital marketing.

Become a Business Analyst

Most companies rely on Big Data to make strategic business decisions and understand the health of their company, but data is just one piece of the puzzle. Knowing how to analyze that data and optimize business processes accordingly is just as crucial as the data itself.

That’s where business analysts come in. Business analysts use data analytics to understand how changes to process, products, services, software and hardware can improve efficiencies and add value. It’s their responsibility to identify these opportunities and figure out which are technologically and financially feasible.

Business analysts are vital across all industries, and their importance is only going to increase as data continues to become paramount. Becoming a business analyst doesn’t require any programming experience, so this is a great option for people looking to jump into a new career with an online degree and course.

Udacity’s Business Analytics Nanodegree program teaches you how to analyze data and build models with Excel, query databases using SQL, and create informative data visualizations with Tableau. With these foundational data skills under your belt, you’ll be able to use statistics to predict possible business outcomes, build stories with data, and extract and analyze data in a number of ways. Employees with skills in Excel, SQL, and Tableau earn salaries in the $85,000-$92,000 range.

Learn to Code

An understanding of coding principles is a prerequisite for most careers in the technology space. It can help lay the framework for roles in machine learning, data science, AI, web and app development, and more, making it the perfect starting point for beginners.

The World Economic Forum’s Jobs of Tomorrow: Mapping Opportunity in the New Economy identifies AI, data, engineering, and cloud computing as the jobs with the most growth in 2022. Data and AI are expected to see a 41% annual growth rate, meaning we should watch out for an influx of jobs in this sector.

It may be daunting for some people to see how they can transition into these fields if they have no prior knowledge, which is why an online degree and course, like Introduction to Programming Course, can be extremely beneficial. Udacity’s free course Intro to HTML and CSS is another great place to start.

Where Coding Can Take You

In Udacity’s Intro to Programming, students learn the basics of programming through HTML, CSS, and Python. This foundational programming knowledge opens the door to countless other areas of study. For instance, you can continue down the programming path and become a Full Stack Web Developer, which has a lot of growth potential and is one of the highest-earning engineering roles.

With programming under your belt, you can also explore careers in AI and machine learning with Udacity’s Intro to Machine Learning with PyTorch. The course explores machine learning algorithms with deep learning, supervised learning, and unsupervised learning. Linkedin ranked AI Specialist as the no.1 emerging job in 2020, with a 74% annual growth rate, highlighting the vast career potential here.

Become a Data Expert

It’s impossible to talk about Big Data and the future of work without mentioning data science. Businesses collect data from consumers in so many ways that in many cases it’s become their biggest asset. Figuring out the best ways to understand, manage, and analyze such data is crucial for staying competitive.

Udacity’s Programming for Data Science with R is a great resource if a career in data science is appealing to you. This online degree and course has no prerequisites and teaches the fundamental data programming tools: R, SQL, command line, and git. Udacity’s School of Data Science offers various courses from Data Visualization to Applying Data Science to Product Management, which can lead you down an exciting new career path.

Check out Udacity’s free Data Visualization in Tableau course to see if data science piques your interest.

Valuable Skills for The Future

There’s a massive opportunity for workers to pivot into roles that will catapult businesses forward, and now is the perfect time to start learning those skills with online degrees and courses. According to Dell, 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet, indicating that the future of work is still taking shape.

In thinking about the future of work and what will be most valuable to employers, we need to consider skills that will help workers adapt and evolve. Developing critical skills that prepare people for multiple career opportunities –– like coding and data principles ––  is crucial for future success.

If you’re interested in upskilling, starting a new role, or want to explore new opportunities that will prepare you for a stable career in the future, check out Udacity’s full catalog, which includes 52 programs and 198 free courses.  

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